Converted Egyptian Christian Recognized as Refugee in Korea 

Korea Times  

A Seoul court ruled Tuesday that the government should grant refugee status to a 40-year-old Egyptian who fled his home country after converting to Christianity 

Swilim Ehab Musa Ibrahim, who was born in Alexandria, arrived in Korea in September 2005, leaving his wife, also a Christian, and three children back in Egypt.  

However, the Justice Ministry denied refugee status after a four-month review in February last year, stating that the asylum seeker failed to prove that he was in danger of persecution.

The ministry also said that Ibrahim changed his story during the interviews.  The Seoul Administration Court, however, rejected the ministry’s decision and ruled that Ibrahim should be granted refugee status. Ibrahim filed a complaint against the Justice Ministry to the court shortly after being denied refugee status.  ``Egyptian law bans conversion from Islam to other religions.

The fact that Ibrahim was constantly threatened from an Islamic religious group and was forced to escape from his country proves that he was not in a position where he could expect his government to protect him should he be extradited back to Egypt,’’ said presiding judge Kim Eui-hwan of the court.  

``The plaintiff lacked consistency in some of his testimonies when he was being investigated by the defendant, but this does not prove that his testimonies are unreliable, considering his mental state at the time he escaped Egypt,’’ he said. 

Ibrahim converted to Christianity in April 2004 after an Internet chat with an online friend from the United States. His wife, from the Philippines, is also a Christian.  However, Ibrahim, who ran a stationery store, claims that he was kidnapped by an Islamic religious group in September of that year and was tortured by the men who insisted he return to Islam.  

Ibrahim escaped from the compound and stayed at his sister’s house in Cairo before coming to Korea, disguising his departure as a business trip.    

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